Pointing to a rectangular piece of cedar that was painted and sealed in a shape of Tennessee and with the words “Franklin Tennessee” etched within it, Kevin Mills couldn’t help but show a little pride.
It’s one of the many similar pieces that he and his brother, Jarrett Mills, will be displaying at Hope Church on Fourth Avenue South in Franklin during Friday night’s Art Scene. The brothers are proud for a couple of reasons: For one, they started their hobby of creating art through woodwork less than three months ago and are already getting pieces in front of the public. And for another, the piece of wood that Mills was holding would likely have ended up in some trash pile had he not retrieved from a construction site.
“We really enjoy this,” Kevin Mills said of the brothers’ new side business. “It’s satisfying doing this woodwork. This is one of our first pieces. The wood was just laying on the ground under a tarp, with mildew all over it. And we turned it into this. It’s satisfying to see that transformation.”
It’s somewhat symbolic of the transformation the Mills have made. While the brothers are originally from Ohio, Kevin and his family moved to Franklin a couple of years ago from Virginia. He had worked several different jobs in the construction industry, and eventually started his own home improvement company, Mills Can Do It. Jarrett, who had majored in graphic design at the University of Dayton in Ohio and was self-taught in building websites, moved to Franklin four months ago and began working with his brother’s company.
The Mills discovered their talent for art after they had become involved in Hope Church. They made a piece for the church, and Pastor Andrew Pfluerger’s wife, Steph, was so impressed she suggested they make more and get them out before the public.
“She said, ‘These are really nice pieces. Would you be interested in putting some pieces in the art crawl?’ It hadn’t really crossed my mind,” Kevin said, “but once we started getting the word out through different people in the community or clients for Mills Can Do It, we’re hearing from various people about making custom pieces for them.”
Using a CNS router machine and going either by commercial designs or original ones by Jarrett, the brothers created 65 pieces they will have displayed and for sale at the Art Scene. They will donate a certain percentage of sales to Hope Church, and a portion of future sales will be donated to local causes as well.
The Mills feel their creativity has plenty of room to expand.
“Each piece is a one-of-a-kind piece,” Kevin said. “You’ll never get another one just the same because they all have their own character. These are hand-poured epoxy pieces. We have the hardware, so our items can be hung on the walls. They’re sealed properly with polyurethane, so if you wanted to put, say, a welcome sign on your front door, they’re ready for that. Once we get the word out there efficiently, we’ll be able to customize.”
Passport program to return one more time
The Franklin Art Scene’s passport program will return for its final month, in addition to 15 participating sites hosting local artists. The passport program invites guests to grab a passport at any of the sites and have it stamped along the way while touring the arts of Historic Downtown Franklin.
Visitors with eight or more site visit stamps will be entered in a drawing for a $100 gift card to Gray’s on Main and two movie tickets to the Franklin Theatre.
In addition to the Mills brothers at Hope Church, other featured artists in the March Art Scene include:
- Franklin Road Apparel, located at 508 W Mains St., will feature artist Damaris Ruiz who is a spirit driven abstract painter and My Bag My Story, a local nonprofit that provides duffel bags for kids in foster care. The musical entertainers for the evening will be singer songwriters Sarah Steil and Daphne Browdy.
- Gallery 202, located at202 2ndAve. S., will feature artist Erin Johnson,whose current focus is contemporary painting in acrylic
- Hester & Cook, located at 340 A Main St., will host author Lauren H. Brandenburg, who will be signing her new book "The Death of Mungo Blackwell".A whimsical tale of a husband and wife finding their identity after a massive financial loss.
- Historic Presbyterian Church,located at 5th & Main St., will host artist Jackie Mickler whose favorite subject to paint is any type of water scene.
- Imaginebox Emporium, located at 311 N. Margin St., will showcase the original illustrations of Cory Basil as well as his other creations using mediums such as watercolor, oil and gauche.
- Sage Sleep, located at 434 Main St., will feature artist Mattie Wolf whoseartwork is best known for its striking use of contrast and fluid designs.
- Twine Graphics and Screen Printing, located at 304 Public Square, will feature portrait artist Brandon Global who has recently been exploring digital painting.
- Visit Franklin, located at 400 Main St., #200, will host artist Elizabeth Welkewhose signature characteristics of her works are exquisite detail, expressions, vibrant colors, pencil and shading.
- Williamson County Archives,located at 611 W Main St., will feature artist Sketch Bourque, who will display his acrylic paintings and graphite drawings.
The Art Scene trolley is also available for free rides throughout the event. Click here for more information on the Franklin Art Scene, a full list of artists and a map of all featured locations.